With the teams left in the Scottish Cup, Hearts were always likely to get a tough quarter-final tie.
Motherwell at Fir Park wouldn’t have been my first choice because you never want to be drawn away to Premiership opposition, but equally it could have been a lot worse considering Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen were among the possibilities.
Motherwell seem to have done the same as Hearts in terms of recruiting well in January, so it should be a cracking match. The fact Hearts are keeping clean sheets almost as a matter of routine now has to give us real confidence that we can get to the semi-finals. With players like Kyle Lafferty and David Milinkovic in such good scoring form at the other end of the pitch, we shouldn’t fear anybody at present. We look like a team who fancy our chances against anybody.
On Saturday, we saw a thoroughly professional and solid performance from a group of players who are generating a really strong mentality together. Jon McLaughlin was man of the match against St Johnstone the previous week, but it was testament to how well we played that this time his goal was barely threatened all afternoon.
Progressing to the later stages of the Scottish Cup should help keep things rolling along nicely as it maintains the momentum and adds extra excitement to the season. We were able to make four changes at the weekend and still send out a really strong starting XI, which highlights the depth of quality we’ve got in the squad. We’ve got good competition for places in most areas so that should help us because every player will be desperate to get in and make an impression, as we saw with Ross Callachan, Anthony McDonald, Michael Smith and Aaron Hughes producing strong performances at the weekend. The depth of squad also allows us to mix and match with regard to team selection, and that seems to be paying off. I’m sure we’ll see some more changes for Saturday’s trip to Ross County. It will be difficult because they’re scrapping for their lives and it’s never easy going up to the Highlands, but, as per the quarter-final against Motherwell, in our current form, we should be supremely confident.